Monday, April 28, 2008

Another View on Curt Flood

It may not always be obvious, but I don't actually believe that I have a monopoly on righteousness. This is especially the case with judgment calls like Hall of Fame worthiness, so I am always happy to read an opposing view. Of course, it's much easier to take when the opposing view is a well-written one (and contains a lot of praise!), such as today's piece on Curt Flood's Hall-worthiness by Russ Smith at Splice. After recapping my argument, Smith says:
But Flood's lawsuit against Major League Baseball's reserve clause, instigated by his objection to a trade from the Cardinals to the Philadelphia Phillies—which he lost in the Supreme Court in '73—led, just a few years later to the free agency which has made multimillionaires of today's elite players. This landmark case forever changed the economics of baseball, and in a positive way, I think, since why shouldn't entertainers such as Johan Santana, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez and Miguel Cabrera pull down Hollywood-like salaries? Calcaterra believes, as do I, that Marvin Miller—the legendary labor leader who pugnaciously ushered MLB into the modern age —belongs in the Hall of Fame. So why not Flood?

I'm still not buying Flood as a Hall of Famer, but Smith's case is a better one than Rhoden's was and is worth reading.


Crawdaddy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Crawdaddy said...

Well, Marvin Miller is in the hall as an executive. I'm not sure Curt Flood qualifies as an executive. It is as if I did something kind of cool as a biologist and then was the subject of some poetry that got a guy a Nobel . . . I should get a Nobel too. It doesn't make good sense to me.

I wanted to use an analogy.

Anonymous said...

To me the question about Flood is what effect did he have on what came next. His lawsuit was a disaterous failure, establishing by a unanimous court, that the reserve clause was legal. If it was his example that caused Messersmith & McNally to seek a determination that the clause in question was limited in scope -- not as a violation of law as argued by Flood, but through strict contractual interpretation -- then maybe he is a pioneer of sorts.

But I don't see his role as a pioneer leading somewhere. My reading of the events is that he was the evolutionary deadend that occured before, but did not cause the subsequent history. I just don't see Flood having significant effect on Catfish Hunter, Andy Messersmith, or Peter Seitz. Am I misreading history?

tadthebad said...

crawdaddy, check that. I'm almost positive that Miller has not been honored with a plaque. As we should know the distinction by now, Miller is certainly in the museum, but he's not in the HOF. That the Veteran's Committe (you know, the old players who directly benefitted from Miller's work) has not voted Miller into the HOF is a source of confusion for me.

Osmodious said...

Why does Flood have to go in as a player? Aren't there honors for others who are worthy?

The player honors should be about the player's PLAYING, not anything else. That is, after all, how we justify the Ty Cobb's, right? I mean, he was a terrible person, but an awesome we honor the player.

In Flood's case, we could honor the person...for his contribution to baseball, or however they would word it.

64cardinals said...

The Buck O'Neil award for Lifetime Achievement, because, you know, when you're not actually good enough to get in, you can get a lifetime achievement award to make eveyone feel better about it.